A dynamic artistic rendering of chaos survived—at least so far.

An artist chronicles the headlines of an extraordinarily tumultuous year.

As Engler explains in the introduction, she had never imagined her work would find her bearing witness to such momentous upheaval. “I painted the day’s headlines,” she writes, “making a picture of the first few news items I heard emitting from my wooden bedside radio when I woke up each morning.” For much of her career, she writes, “my art had been about depicting the mundane or ordinary to create a big picture, working from the small and intimate to arrive at a greater whole.” Yet 2020 would confound everyone’s expectations, and revisiting it through Engler’s vivid drawings and sharp memories is enough to give anyone whiplash. The impeachment trials and the presidential campaigning dominated the news at the beginning of 2020, with the threat of pandemic barely a whisper. Even as that threat accelerated, there were countless mixed messages in the media, as the virus spread from China across the world, with concentrated outbreaks in New York and elsewhere around the country. By the end of March, the U.S. led the world in cases. A full month later, with the country in various states of shutdown, the same news cycle showed Dr. Anthony Fauci warning of worse to come in the fall and Jared Kushner hailing the administration’s containment of the virus as “a great success.” The author goes on to depict the murder of George Floyd, the rise of Black Lives Matter and nationwide protests, Trump and other associates testing positive, and the chaotic presidential election. The book ends with Joe Biden’s inauguration. Throughout, Engler combines the sharp eye of an editorial caricaturist with the vibrant color of a portraitist, and the energy of the artwork underscores the sense of urgency in the day's news. The accompanying text has a matter-of-fact tone that belies the powerful underlying sense that so much has gone seriously awry.

A dynamic artistic rendering of chaos survived—at least so far.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-82469-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021


A mostly compelling account of one woman’s struggles within Trumpworld.

An insider’s account of the rampant misconduct within the Trump administration, including the tumult surrounding the insurrection of Jan. 6, 2021.

Hutchinson, who served as an assistant to Mark Meadows, Trump’s former White House chief of staff, gained national prominence when she testified to the House Select Committee, providing possibly the most damaging portrait of Trump’s erratic behavior to date. In her hotly anticipated memoir, the author traces the challenges and triumphs of her upbringing in New Jersey and the work (including a stint as an intern with Sen. Ted Cruz) that led her to coveted White House internships and eventual positions in the Office of Legislative Affairs and with Meadows. While the book offers few big reveals beyond her testimony (many details leaked before publication), her behind-the-scenes account of the chaotic Trump administration is intermittently insightful. Her initial portrait of Trump is less critical than those written by other former staffers, as the author gauges how his actions were seemingly stirred more by vanity and fear of appearing weak, rather than pure malevolency. For example, she recalls how he attended an event without a mask because he didn’t want to smear his face bronzer. Hutchinson also provides fairly nuanced portraits of Meadows and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who, along with Trump, eventually turned against her. She shares far more negative assessments about others in Trump’s orbit, including Rep. Matt Gaetz, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, and adviser Rudy Giuliani, recounting how Giuliani groped her backstage during Trump’s Jan. 6 speech. The narrative lags after the author leaves the White House, but the story intensifies as she’s faced with subpoenas to testify and is forced to undergo deep soul-searching before choosing to sever ties with Trump and provide the incriminating information that could help take him down.

A mostly compelling account of one woman’s struggles within Trumpworld.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2023

ISBN: 9781668028285

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2023


A wide-ranging collection of testaments to what moves the heart.

Black Americans declare their love.

This anthology brings together dozens of love letters by prominent Black Americans. The entries, interspersed with illustrations, address an eclectic mix of topics arranged under five categories: Care, Awe, Loss, Ambivalence, and Transformation. In their introduction, editors Brown and Johnson note the book’s inspiration in the witnessing of violence directed at Black America. Reckonings with outrage and grief, they explain, remain an urgent task and a precondition of creating and sustaining loving bonds. The editors seek to create “a site for our people to come together on the deepest, strongest emotion we share” and thus open “the possibility for shared deliverance” and “carve out a space for healing, together.” This aim is powerfully realized in many of the letters, which offer often poignant portrayals of where redemptive love has and might yet be found. Among the most memorable are Joy Reid’s “A Love Letter to My Hair,” a sensitive articulation of a hard-won sense of self-love; Morgan Jerkins’ “Dear Egypt,” an exploration of a lifelong passion for an ancient world; and VJ Jenkins’ “Pops and Dad,” an affirmation that it “is beautiful to be Black, to be a man, and to be gay.” Tracey Michae’l Lewis-Giggetts’ “Home: A Reckoning” is particularly thoughtful and incisive in its examination of a profound attachment, “in the best and worst ways,” to Louisville, Kentucky. Most of the pieces pair personal recollections with incisive cultural commentary. The cumulative effect of these letters is to set forth a panorama of opportunities for maintaining the ties that matter most, especially in the face of a cultural milieu that continues to produce virulent forms of love’s opposite. Other contributors include Nadia Owusu, Jamila Woods, Ben Crump, Eric Michael Dyson, Kwame Dawes, Jenna Wortham, and Imani Perry.

A wide-ranging collection of testaments to what moves the heart.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2023

ISBN: 9781638931201

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Get Lifted Books/Zando

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023

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